Chinese New Year is a time when half of China decides to travel to their home towns. This makes travel within China an absolute nightmare, yet staying in Beijing during a four-day weekend isn’t an option. The solution is to figure out the location where four hundred million or so Han are least likely to go. In 2010 we figured that recent uprisings made Kashgar in Xinjiang a safe bet.
Given the tensions China is stirring up with Japan, and the continuous stream of anti-Japanese propaganda, we figured that Japan was a great destination to ring in the year of the Snake (2013).
We were referred through friends to an unbelievably awesome host who showed us a great time, taught us about great sake, and helped us find the most amazing powder I’ve ever seen.
Growing up skiing in Eastern North America, powder is a completely foreign concept to me. It was snowing heavily and visibility was bad on our first day. I’m very thankful for this because every time there was a moment of clarity and I could see where I was going, I was freaked out by the giant mounds of snow forming into moguls. I would see the giant mogul and try to adjust to approach at the perfect angle to absorb the impact and maintain control.
It took me a long time to overcome this instinct and learn that you can breeze right over and through light fluffy powder. It was much easier when I couldn’t see what was coming and was just floating on the snow. Eventually I figured it out.
There were a couple of occasions when I slowed too much or carved too hard and sunk too far into the snow. Getting out of waist deep snow isn’t easy. Being huge by Japanese standards, the rental bindings were set too loose and I also blew out of my skis in spectacular fashion. The landings were soft, but the search for the missing ski was always a challenge.
Off the hills we ate great food and were amused by the snow clearing water sprinklers that are everywhere in the village. These little sprinkler heads are in all parking lots and in the centre of every roadway in the town. The system is highly effective because the temperature never drops too far below freezing, although it makes the city a less than appealing place to be a pedestrian.
Despite the awesomeness of the four different mountains we skied, I don’t have a lot of photos because there was just too much snow for me to take out my camera.